Though not a common insect pest of soybeans, in any given year there is often a question regarding the white-margined burrower bug, Sehirus cinctus, with recorded observations from Kentucky and across the USA to Nebraska.1,2
Burrower bugs resemble stink bugs as they injure plants with sucking mouth parts and may cause the yellowing of plants in spots where populations are high. The adults are shiny black insects outlined with a small white line (Figure 1) while the nymphs are red and black with black marks across the abdomen (Figure 2).
This insect overwinters as an adult. In the spring they mate, lay eggs, and the nymphs hatch mid-May. They are often seen in abundant numbers on henbit, mints, and nettles in late spring.3 Once their preferred host is controlled by herbicides, they will move to the closest succulent plant to feed. Initially their numbers can be high but as adults they disperse. In any given year, large numbers of burrower bugs may be found in concentrated spots in soybean fields depending on several factors from planting date to winter conditions, timing of weed control, and lack of natural predators.
In general, the presence of the burrower bug in your soybean field does not cause economic damage.2 Unlike the more common insect pests of soybean, there are no economic threshold levels developed for soybean burrower bug control. If you have concerns, consult your local University Extension resources, and always read and follow label guidelines.
1Townsend, L. 2005. Burrower bugs – They can be anywhere. Kentucky Pest News. http://www.uky.edu/.
2Wright, R. and McMechan, J. 2018. Burrower bugs in soybeans. CROPWATCH. University of Nebraska. https://cropwatch.unl.edu/.
3Whitworth, J. and Davis, H. Burrowing bugs, Sehirus cinctus. Soybean Insect Management. K-State Research & Extension. Kansas State University. https://entomology.k-state.edu/.
Web sites verified 4/19/21